The truth is Miranda Lambert and radio have always had a rocky relationship, especially when considering the success she’s had in other arenas such as awards, fan loyalty, and critical acclaim. Yeah, there was “The House That Built Me” and a couple others, but otherwise it’s been a slog, like it is for many women. So why not saddle up with a new producer in the form of Jay Joyce, and give this thing a shot from a different angle?
“It All Comes Out in the Wash” is lighthearted and playful, and country and folksy in its mannerisms, if not entirely in its music. Literally built out from a colloquialism by the Love Junkies (Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, and Hillary Lindsey) with an assist from Lambert herself, it calls back to the more classic style of Miranda, with sass and attitude mixed with honesty and simple country wisdom. It’s not meant to change the world, it’s just meant to change your perspective if you’re worried about pulling a boner as we all do upon occasion, and have a little fun in the process. In this effort, the song is effective, and will find favorable reception among most mainstream country fans.
What will put this song in the mixed sentiment category for some is the Jay Joyce production. The “doo doos” mimicked by the electric guitar call to mind the “doo doos” that rendered the Jay Joyce-produced track “Desperate Man” by Eric Church so polarizing. The music of “It All Comes Out in the Wash” is more punctuated than melodic, which is probably the right call for the attitude of this song. But can be a little bit harsh in moments, including the spin cycle near the end that rattles in the brain a bit. Sometimes it’s a fine line between infectious and annoying. The “doo doos” will break one way for some, and the other way for others.
The production concerns some will have will be underscored when you hear the second new track from Miranda, “Locomotive.” Here we have an all out arena rock romp, complete with wild ass guitar and full throttle attitude marking not a return to the old Miranda, but a new mark for making mainstream country rock with moxie. It’s harmless and fun as an album cut, but ultimately the right decision was made sending out “It All Comes Out in the Wash” as the lead single.
Judging the first song sent to radio from a new album on what’s coming next is like basing a football season on the first game played. “It All Comes Out in the Wash” is fine for a lead single—sensible, reminiscent of Pistol Annies material, and hopefully amicable to radio. We can agree with Miranda now that her newest material will sound more like her oldest material, which likely means there will also be deeper songs to come too. No need jumping to conclusions about her upcoming album to be released this fall simply off the first couple of songs.
As a country song, “It All Comes Out in the Wash” is average, but with some attitude and playfulness that will make it fun to many listeners. As a radio single though, it’s above par and welcome, hopefully knocking some terrible cliche post-Bro selection down a notch, that is if radio will play the son-of-a-bitch.